I work with Christian college students who are in the throes of dating or of wanting to be dating. Nearly every week during the school year, I am asked questions (mostly by ladies) about the ins-and-outs of the dating process. Questions like, "What's the biblical model for dating?" "Is it okay for girls to pursue guys?" and, "Do you believe there is one person out there for me?" I am even asked to arrange dates.
Yet when it comes to directing them to resources about relationships, often I'm uncomfortable recommending many of the Christian resources available. While no doubt the purveyors of these resources mean well, I find that many of the resources lack significant social and theological acuity.
Rules and regulations (mostly geared toward women) like, "Do not call or text him," "Never ask a guy out, let him pursue you, let him initiate," "Do not pray together," and "Only go on group dates" are often touted as inviolable and sacrosanct, as if they are dating principles derivable straight from the Bible. Really, most are cultural preferences, and are often one-sided and narrow in their approach. We need a greater vision—a more holistic way of thinking and speaking that contextualizes these admonitions.
For example, I believe we have conflated a unilateral campaign for sexual abstinence with deep, robust theological reflection on human relationships and sexuality. It's one thing to teach that God wants us to remain pure (which is, by the way, about more than not having sex). It's another thing to sabotage what might otherwise be sexually pure, healthy, male-female relationships with an inordinately long list of do's and don'ts. (I touched on this subject in another Her.meneutics post.)
Yet the Christian conversation about ...1
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